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Philips 42PFL9664 42in LCD TV - Philips 42PFL9664

John Archer

By John Archer


  • Recommended by TR
Philips 42PFL9664 42in LCD TV


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Review Price free/subscription

As I'd expect of a TV from Philips' flagship 9000 Series, it's wall-to-wall with high-powered video processing - most of which falls under the headline title of Perfect Pixel HD.

This comprises a number of elements aimed at different facets of the picture - indeed, the latest generation of Perfect Pixel HD as sported by the 42PFL9664 works on pretty much every aspect of a TV picture, thanks to the addition of new Perfect Contrast and Perfect Colour elements.

Older versions of Philips video processing obviously haven't actually ignored colour and contrast. But Philips has introduced the 'Perfect' contrast and colour names to emphasise how much extra processing power it's now throwing at these two key image elements.

The 42PFL9664's motion handling also warrants some special attention. For as well as using Perfect Natural Motion to estimate and interpolate extra frames of image data, to remove judder, Philips claims that the TV has 200Hz processing.

However, there's a catch. For the reality is that at the moment, the only brands offering screens capable of a true 200Hz output are Sony and Samsung. What the Philips 200Hz models actually do is combine 100Hz processing with a scanning backlight running at a 50 per cent duty cycle to produce what Philips will doubtless hate me calling a 'pseudo' 200Hz system.

To be fair, Philips does at least acknowledge this in its marketing materials for the 42PFL9664 (unlike LG!). And even Samsung at a recent product presentation had to admit that Philips was exceptionally good at using scanning backlight technology. But in a TV world where the whole Hz message seems to be getting increasingly distorted and confused, it's important to try and make sure you know exactly how different manufacturers' xxxHz claims are derived.

As with any Philips flagship TV, the 42PFL9664's onscreen menus are immensely long, so extensive is the amount of features and tweaks they contain. These tweaks are largely based around the fact that you can adjust just about every element of the Perfect Pixel HD system. While potentially intimidating to technophobes, though, offering such a degree of flexibility is actually key to the TV's success, for reasons we'll cover later.

If you really don't fancy regularly spending quality time with the 42PFL9664's endless picture options, though, then at least the TV walks you through a series of very simple picture 'choices' when you first switch it on, designed to help the TV optimise its picture settings for you.

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August 5, 2009, 7:18 am

Why oh why is Philips still peddling lcd when LED is the future? Given the price I expected this to be a pre-requisite.

Geoff Richards

August 5, 2009, 1:00 pm

@James1000 - a TV is simply defined by its backlighting technology, just as not all 1080p TVs are automatically better than 720p models...

Edge-lit LED backlighting facilitates a thinner chassis, but as John quite rightly points out, does that *really* matter so much when the TV is on the wall, or pushed into the corner of your living room?

This model achieves excellent image quality via the extra grunt Philips has thrown at its processing power; the Perfect Pixel HD system doesn't come cheap, but it allows it to outshine lesser models. And of course there's the Ambilight system too.

There's life in the "old" tech yet :)


August 5, 2009, 3:42 pm

@Geoff, if the TV is in the corner of the room then depth seems irrelevant but (for me at least) if it's going on the wall then every mm counts.

Any comment on the Natural Motion system? When I see Philips TVs I usually think the smoothing looks plain weird - you can almost see the system kicking on and off. Same with some of the latest Samsung LED systems. Anyone else find this? Can you tone this down (on both Philips and Samsung) to a natural level without turning it completely off?


August 5, 2009, 3:51 pm


Sounds as though you're another victim of Samsung brainwashing (sorry marketing) getting you to believe there's such a thing as LED TV - as Geoff quite rightly points out these so called new LED TVs are the same LCDs but with LED backlighting. LED Edge lit TVs (eg Samsung B8000) are only marginally improved over traditional CCFL. It's LCDs with direct LED backlighting with local dimming that you should be looking out for! But even these are still LCD! The true next gen tech TVs are OLED which are still in development.

Samsung - misleading the nation!

Darren Burn

August 5, 2009, 8:07 pm

Quick question - does the Philips Net TV allow you to therefore go onto the iPlayer website and watch content directly from there on your TV - or would you need to hook up a HDMI laptop


August 7, 2009, 3:43 am

Yes it seems the term LED is the new buzz word for people who want to believe in fairies - last year it was 1080p being a neccessity or your set will not be HD.

Can anybody guess what next years will be??

I am placing my bets on "HD Freeview Built In".


August 7, 2009, 6:15 pm

@Davidcrofter - sorry to disappoint but I dont actually believe in fairies. Common sense on the other hand... Just to educate you lcds have been dogged by contrast issues when compared to plasma. Therefore led is (for the rationally minded) a logical progression as this addresses this issue to some degree.Why are you in denial of such a thing?


August 7, 2009, 9:08 pm

@james1000 - Your missing the point. Technically these so called 'LED TVs' are still by definition LCD and come with the inherent drawbacks (degrading picture of axis, motion blur). The only thing that is different is the rear lighting and that like the other parts of LCD TVs have been improving over the years but the method of the tech has always been the same ie. a transmissive display unlike plasma or OLED or SED or CRT etc. etc.

LCDs with local dimming rear lighting (see im not specifying LED - another lighting could be employed) with the ongoing LCD panel improvements are in my opinion the pinnacle of LCD tech!

The next gen TVs are OLED and if they are not, I'll eat my hat (pending whether or not I'm wearing a hat)

Jan Andersen

August 13, 2009, 5:23 pm

I just baught the 32" in this serie ( 32PFL6404 ), and remain with the question, does this TV serie have LED backlight ?

Aggree that LED backlight with individual LED control, local dimming, is a flop and should be avoided ( at least in todays attempts ). Examples like the Samsung B7000 made me go for a regular backlight.


But plain LED backlight should be the optimal, both in terms of energy and uniform backlight.

Lee Marshall

October 20, 2010, 1:50 pm

Just bought one of these from Marks & Spencers with a five year warranty for only £599, reduced from £999.



October 24, 2010, 12:11 am

Thanks to Lee Marshall... I just purchased one too(eventually, long story)... I await its delivery with eager anticipation. M&S... £599 5 year warranty.....:)


November 5, 2010, 6:06 pm

@ Lee Marshall - Whoa, are you serious about that price? How/ where did you get that from? Any particular branch of M&S? Was it new? Any info greatly appreciated as I would love to get my hands on one for that price

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